While there’s no denying that some people shouldn’t drink alcohol and over imbibing can lead to health problems, there’s also no denying that booze tourism is a trend that’s been growing in popularity. Bill and I have definitely enjoyed some fun booze touristy spots in our travels. Here’s a list of some of the places we enjoyed the most.
Vinopolis– London, England (ETA: Sadly, Vinopolis is now closed!)
Bill and I visited Vinopolis in January 2009 over Martin Luther King weekend. We were living in Germany at the time, so it wasn’t too hard to get to London. I had heard about Vinopolis by watching Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe. Knowing how much we enjoy tasting booze, we knew we had to make a point of stopping there. We tasted everything from Slovenian wine to Czech absinthe. Afterwards, we staggered to the Clink Museum next door and looked at all the prison memorabilia.
Bill tries out the moped through Italy’s wine regions…
Waiting for a Bombay Sapphire gin cocktail.
Chodovar– Chodova Plana, Czech Republic
I never thought I’d take a bath in beer, but I sure did when we visited Chodovar. I first heard about Chodovar when I saw it featured on Zane Lamprey’s drinking show, Three Sheets. In February 2009, I decided we needed to pay the place a visit. I neglected to bring my camera on that trip, but if you click the link, you can see plenty of photos of the pewter tubs where you soak in hops and sip beer. Afterwards, we relaxed in a dark room, then enjoyed massages. The whole experience was very reasonably priced. I think for the entire weekend, which included meals, parking, and three nights in the hotel, cost us less than $500.
Pilsner Urquell Museum– Plzen, Czech Republic
We saw this museum on the same trip in February 2009 and it, too, was featured on Three Sheets. This museum offers a great history of Pilsner Urquell brewing and beer making in general. After you’re finished looking at the extensive museum, you can stop by the restaurant and sample the beer. We also had a nice lunch there.
We went to Asheville to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary and were delighted to find a great beer culture there. There are a number of craft beers made in Asheville, many of which offer tours. If you prefer wine, you can stop by the Biltmore Estate, which offers tours of its winery and tastings. Bill and I took the tour and were very impressed by the quality of the wines sold there.
Dinner at a brewpub…
The Biltmore on a cloudy day!
Living near San Antonio, Bill and I aren’t too far from Texas Wine Country, which is in the hills northwest of San Antonio. There, you will find a string of wineries offering surprisingly good products. One of my favorite stops is Comfort, Texas, which is where you’ll find Bending Branch Winery and Singing Water Vineyards… I’m sure there are more I’d love, but we haven’t visited them yet. In all seriousness, Texas Wine Country boasts 37 wineries. With San Antonio, Austin, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg all in the vicinity, there’s plenty of opportunity for non booze related fun, too. Of course, there are craft breweries in Texas too… and excellent tequila.
Okay, so the Museum of Beer in Lisbon isn’t all that exciting in terms of beer tourism. I mean, you wouldn’t go to Lisbon just to see the beer museum unless you were extremely hardcore. But if you happen to be in Lisbon, it’s not a bad idea to stop by the beer museum to learn about Portugal’s influence in brewing. It’s three euros a person to see the exhibit, which includes a sample. Then you can head to the bar where you can imbibe to your heart’s content.
Bill drinks with a fake monk.
Bill and I went to Scotland and visited two whisky distilleries. We also visited the Scotch Whisky Experience, which is pretty cool if you can’t go to the distilleries. Granted, the distilleries may be more authentic, but the Scotch Whisky Experience is right there in Edinburgh. On the other hand, we learned much about the scotch making process at Arran and Springbank distilleries. And the Springbank distillery was especially cool, since it offers one of the few examples of Campbeltown style scotch whisky. Campbeltown used to be a big whisky hub, but sadly a lot of the distilleries are gone now.
The Scotch Whisky Experience has an enormous collection of scotches…
Okay, so Hampton, Georgia isn’t exactly on most peoples’ tourism hotspots, but if you’re willing to get there, you may be in for a treat. Bill and I used to live in a town close to Hampton, which is where a local entrepreneur purchased the old jailhouse and made it into a craft brewing facility. You can take a tour and taste their excellent brews, which have really caught on in the Atlanta area. Bill and I can’t get JailHouse beers in Texas, but luckily we have friends who can send it to us. If you’re in the Atlanta area and don’t mind taking a trip south of the city, I recommend a trip to JailHouse Brewing Company!
As you can see, Bill enjoyed his taste of the Breakout Stout!
I’m sure there will be more posts on this subject as we keep traveling!